Uptown Theatre

239 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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Uptown Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theatre was in Back Bay, located near Symphony Hall, Northeastern University and the New England Conservatory of Music on Huntington Avenue. Its story began in 1901 when the famous piano makers opened the 800-seat Chickering Hall,designed by the architectural firm Peabody & Stearns.

In 1912, the same architectural firm were used to expand the building into the 1,600-seat, St. James Theatre, which presented vaudeville and film, operated by Marcus Loew. In the 1920’s, the theatre metamorphosed into one of Boston’s then popular stock company stages.

Renamed Uptown Theatre, it resumed as a movie theatre in the 1930’s. This second run house catered to college students. Its vaudeville days was still in evidence as it had a full stage.

The building was demolished in 1968. The site is now occupied by part of the Christian Science complex.

Contributed by Al Larkin

Recent comments (view all 73 comments)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Or, more likely, he is confusing the Uptown with the Symphony Cinema, a twin which was a block further west on Huntington Ave. and on the opposite side of the street. The comments there make several references to I Am Curious (Yellow).

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 28, 2011 at 3:10 am

This aerial photo includes a view from above of the Uptown Theatre, two buildings to the right of Symphony Hall on Huntington Avenue and on the close side of the Christian Science Center. You can make out the marquee as well as the scenery tower at the rear of the building.
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With some effort one can also make out Loew’s State on Massachusetts Avenue.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

In a 1918 Boston street directory, this theater, as the “St. James Theatre” is listed at 239 Huntington Avenue.

lcronkel
lcronkel on February 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

I was very familiar with the area having been born on Hemingway Street. I was only 8 or 9 at the time, but I had a weekly ritual where I went to a used book store near the Uptown to buy used comic books. Then I would go across the street to the Uptown News to get the newest comics. Then it was steamed burgers at Joe & Nemo’s before I would go to meet my grandfather at Crusher Casey’s.
The Strand Theatre was nearby as well, and was considered a step down from the Uptown. Indeed there was a Brigham’s next to the Uptown. Eventually this was merged with a Fanny Farmers, probably one of the earlier attempts at co-branding. I remember the Walton’s nearby having an automat at one point. There was a Howard Johnson’s nearby, but it was furthet up Huntington near Wentworth Institute.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 4, 2011 at 7:35 am

Larcron is correct about there being a used bookshop near the Uptown and the Strand. It was located somewhere between Mechanics Hall and the Uptown on the same side of the street and was a funky old place where I bought old copies of Railroad Magazine and Trains Magazine from the 1940s for only 15 cents each. This was in the mid-and late-1950s. Stores like that gave Boston character, in contrast to the antiseptic, streamlined, expensive upscale $$$stores of today.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 21, 2011 at 8:11 am

Prior to the opening of Chickering Hall on Huntington Avenue in 1901, there was an earlier, smaller Chickering Hall downtown. It was located, as of 1884, at 151 Tremont Street. I’m not sure if it was on the ground floor or upstairs. It had about 450 seats,with a balcony. Down at the right front, next to the stage, there was an exit out to Mason Street in back. An old seating chart says it was at 151 Tremont in the same building as the Chickering Piano sales showroom; but elsewhere on the chart it says “251 Tremont” which cannot be accurate if Mason Street was in back.

MarkB
MarkB on July 24, 2011 at 10:04 am

I just added a photo.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on April 11, 2012 at 4:56 am

You are right. It was the Symphony not the Uptown. Sorry for my confusion.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 20, 2013 at 7:45 am

The St. James Theatre was expensively renovated by Keith-Albee in 1926, with claims of “Most Beautiful in Boston” and “No Bigger Show Anywhere.” It was also frequently described as Keith’s Uptown house, which may have inspired the later name switch from St. James to Uptown Theatre.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

When did Loew’s operate the theatre? Did it precede or follow Keith-Albee?

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